Sir Humphrey helps the Minister with the procurement regulations….

- Come in Humphrey, come in.

Minister, this is Timothy, Timothy is our Procurement Director. I don’t think you’ve met him before.

- Good morning Minister.

Good morning Timothy. So.. remind me why I’m meeting Timothy, Humphrey?

- Minister, Timothy is worried, very worried. Aren’t you Timothy?

- Minister, it’s about your personal media adviser.

What, Julia? She’s excellent, really excellent. Helps me with my speeches, does a bit of writing for me, actually she chose this tie – rather fetching, don’t you think?.

- The problem is that we’re paying her on an hourly basis – she’s not a civil servant, or a Special Adviser, so her engagement is technically a procurement issue. And as such it is subject to the full legal framework for the engagement and remuneration of third parties, including the  panalopy of EU, Treasury and UK statutory regulations. that includes the EU 2006 Regulations, the Remedies Directive of 2010 and the recent Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012 - they’re just examples you understand.

Sorry?

- What Timothy is pointing out Minister, is that we – you – really should go through a procurement process in order to choose a media adviser. If Julia wins that competitive process, then all is well. And if she doesn’t, then no doubt whoever wins will be even better!

A competitive process?

- Yes, just a simple tender, no more than – probably 20 pages, just 80 or 90 questions I would think.

Julia isn’t going to like that. She won’t like that at all. And Humphrey, you know she’s aware of .. certain matters?

- The Norwich issue, Minister?

The Norwich  issue indeed.

- We thought that might be your reaction Minister. Which is one reason I brought Timothy with me. Timothy had had rather a good idea. Timothy?

- Well Minister, we have a large contract for outsourced IT services with UniCap Packture.

That is a strange name for a firm isn’t it?

- There have been rather a lot of mergers in that industry, Minister.  Anyway, we made the specification and contract deliberately wide when we tendered that, so we can include a wide range of services within that contract quite legally. So that includes what we define as “other consulting and advisory services linked to Information Technology or other business processes”.

Yes – you mean?

- I think we can argue that policy advice and supporting activities linked to the media presentation of that advice falls comfortably under that “other business processes” definition.

So what exactly does that mean Timothy?

- It means that UniCap Packture can legitimately offer us media advice services without a further procurement exercise .

But how does that help me work with Julia?

- She will simply work as a sub-contractor to  UniCap Packture. We can suggest strongly to them – very strongly if you like - that she is the best person to carry out the work. It’s not a business they’re in, so they are hardly likely to object. She can charge them her normal fee, and UniCap Packture will add on a small margin, then invoice us for her services. So everybody is happy.

And we're working legally?

- Absolutely Minister. No need to worry about any of those inconvenient acts. Even the ones you introduced...

Humphrey, Timothy, that’s brilliant! So you weren’t bringing me a problem for once, you were bringing me a solution! I do like it when that happens...

Yes Minister, indeed. And so do we .......

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